Marta Kostyuk was booed off court after refusing to shake hands with Aryna Sabalenka at the end of her first-round French Open defeat.

There was particular interest in the opening clash of the tournament on Philippe Chatrier given Ukrainian Kostyuk has been the most outspoken critic both of allowing Russian and Belarusian players to continue competing and of athletes from those two countries for not speaking out against their nations.

Sabalenka knew Kostyuk would not shake her hand at the end of the match, and the Belarusian said in her pre-tournament press conference: “If she hates me, OK. I can’t do anything about that.”

The pair kept well apart ahead of the contest, not posing together for the usual pre-match picture, and at the end of the 6-3 6-2 victory for the second seed, Kostyuk walked to shake hands with the umpire before heading to her seat.

A section of the crowd began booing, startling Sabalenka, who appeared unsure whether the gesture was directed at her, but the fans then cheered for her before jeering Kostyuk when she walked off.

Sabalenka said: “It was a very tough match, tough emotionally. I didn’t know if the booing was against me but thank you so much for your support, it’s really important.”

The Australian Open champion is one of three big favourites for the women’s title along with defending champion Iga Swiatek and Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina.

She looked tight to start with and two double faults contributed to a loss of serve as Kostyuk took a 3-2 advantage in the first set.

But Sabalenka got back on level terms immediately and from there relaxed into the match, losing just two of the last 12 games.

International Tennis Federation (ITF) president David Haggerty is disappointed that Rafael Nadal will not be able to feature at Roland Garros, which he called "Rafa's house".

Nadal has not played since suffering a second-round exit at the Australian Open in January, having struggled with a hip injury during his straight-sets defeat to Mackenzie McDonald, and will not play at the French Open.

The Spaniard last week confirmed he will be unable to compete at Roland Garros, where he is a record 14-time champion.

When announcing his withdrawal, Nadal said 2024 would "probably" be his final year on the ATP Tour and outlined his intention of making farewell appearances at "important tournaments".

Haggerty said: "I think it's disappointing for Rafa not to be there because we know Roland Garros as Rafa's house so to speak.

"He's won it so many times and people love to watch him play. [It is] disappointing.

"I was happy to hear that he is talking about the possibility of his return to the Davis Cup finals, which would be fantastic. I wish him a successful recovery and hope to see him on the court again."

 

While Nadal will not be present in Paris, WTA world number one Iga Swiatek is set to be in action.

Swiatek is the defending champion, and Haggerty says the Pole will be well aware her rivals are gunning for her title.

"She's the number one player in the world and I think that she has been ranked number one for more than a year consecutively," he said.

"So [she is] a very, very good player. She won Roland Garros last year, so I expect to see her performances continued to be good knowing that everybody's after her to try to beat number one."

At 21, Swiatek already has three grand slam titles under her belt. And with 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz conquering all on the ATP Tour, Haggerty thinks tennis' future is in safe hands, even as Nadal and Novak Djokovic reach the twilight of their careers.

"I think we have many good young men and young women that are showing how great tennis is and and putting on good rivalries already," he said. 

"So I think the future is bright."

Rafael Nadal will be contemplating the best way to call time on his stellar career after injury denied him the chance to defend his French Open title, believes Tommy Haas.

Nadal has not played since suffering a second-round exit at the Australian Open in January, having struggled with a hip injury during his straight-sets defeat to Mackenzie McDonald.

The 22-time grand slam champion last week admitted defeat in his bid to appear at Roland Garros, where he has triumphed 14 times – a record for any player at a single grand slam.

When announcing his withdrawal, Nadal said 2024 would "probably" be his final year on the ATP tour and outlined his intention of making farewell appearances at "important tournaments".

Nadal's long-time rival Roger Federer retired surrounded by several of his fellow greats at last year's Laver Cup, and Haas believes the Spaniard will be eyeing a similar send-off. 

"At some point, time catches up with all of us and that's the reality," Haas, a four-time grand slam semi-finalist, told Stats Perform.

"I think at this stage, I'm sure he's been contemplating the idea: 'When would I do it? How would I do it? How would it come together organically?' 

"We saw Roger Federer doing it last year and the way he was able to retire in London at the Laver Cup with all of his rivals and friends on the court. I happened to be there live, it was an amazing way to finish such an incredible career. 

"Look at Pete Sampras. He won his first slam at the US Open and he won his last match at the US Open, winning the slam there on home turf – there couldn't have been a better fairy tale. 

"I think you look at that and at the same time, you have to stay focused on what's happening today and you can't look too far ahead."

 

Though Nadal's total of 22 grand slam singles titles is a joint record in the men's game (alongside Novak Djokovic), the Spaniard's injury record has denied him several chances to add to that tally.

Nadal played all four grand slams for the first time since 2019 last year but was forced to withdraw from the Wimbledon semi-finals, and Haas says the Spaniard's fitness will dictate his future.   

"It always depends, obviously, on the injuries. 'How bad is it and can I recover from it?' I'm sure Rafa is constantly thinking about those situations," Haas added.

"He's been saying he still wants to play for another year or two, which would obviously be amazing for the sport. 

"On clay, I think he has a better chance of keeping the body in a better shape than on gruelling hardcourts. He obviously plays long matches, which is tough on the body."

The main draw of the French Open begins on Sunday, with Nadal's compatriot Carlos Alcaraz the top male seed as he bids for a second major title.

Katie Boulter produced a gutsy display against Ashlyn Krueger but failed to serve out for the match as she was beaten in the second qualifying round for the French Open.

On a difficult day for Britons attempting to progress into the Roland Garros main draw, Boulter joined Harriet Dart, Fran Jones, Liam Broady, Ryan Peniston and Jan Choinski in losing in Paris on Wednesday.

It means only Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Jack Draper will fly the flag for Britain in the second major of 2023, following Andy Murray’s withdrawal and Emma Raducanu’s recent fitness woes.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by LTA (@lta)

 

Boutler had been seeded 24th for qualifying but lost out 2-6 6-2 6-7 (6) to Krueger after a lengthy battle.

American Krueger claimed the opener before Boulter hit back to level, but then quickly found herself 5-2 down in the third set.

The British number three fought back to reel off four consecutive games to give herself the chance to serve out and progress into the final qualifying round but Krueger forced the tie-breaker.

It was then the teenager from Missouri, who had beaten Lily Miyazaki on Tuesday, who held her nerve to set up a third qualifying round meeting with Storm Sanders.

Boulter’s fellow British hopeful Jones saw her aspirations of making a first French Open appearance end after she had to retire during her match with Ylena In-Albon.

Jones, who suffers from a congenital condition which means she has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on one foot and four toes on the other, was left in tears as she had to retire due to an apparent shoulder injury when 4-1 down during the first set.

Dart also exited in the second qualifying stage after she was beaten by France’s Elsa Jacquemot 1-6 6-1 6-2.

It meant the trio joined Heather Watson, Katie Swan, Sonay Kartal and Miyazaki in failing to qualify for the French Open meaning there will be no British female involved in the singles’ event at Roland Garros.

Broady, the British male number five, also suffered defeat on the clay on Wednesday but only following a back and forth clash with Emilio Nava.

Broady lost an even opener before he hit back in style to inflict a bagel on Nava in the second. American Nava regrouped though and clinched the third to progress 6-4 0-6 6-3.

World number 191 Peniston was another to be edged out in third following a 2-6 6-2 6-4 loss to Romanian eighth seed Radu Albot.

Meanwhile, Choinski was beaten 3-6 6-4 6-0 by Sebastian Ofner.

Fran Jones’ hopes of making a first French Open appearance are over after she was forced to retire during her second qualifying round.

The Briton, who suffers from a congenital condition which means she has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on one foot and four toes on the other, was left in tears as she had to retire due to an apparent shoulder injury during the first set of her clash with Ylena In-Albon at Roland Garros.

Jones, currently ranked 316 in the world, had beaten former grand slam semi-finalist Coco Vandeweghe in her opening round and had enjoyed some encouraging results on the ITF circuit prior to the main clay-court in Paris.

She joins Heather Watson and Katie Swan in heading out of qualifying as the British pair lost in Tuesday’s first-round qualifying.

A host of other Brits are in action later on Tuesday as they hope to continue their journey towards the main draw.

Fran Jones’ hopes of making a first French Open appearance are over after she was forced to retire during her second qualifying round.

The Briton, who suffers from a congenital condition which means she has three fingers and a thumb on each hand, three toes on one foot and four toes on the other, was left in tears as she had to retire due to an apparent shoulder injury during the first set of her clash with Ylena In-Albon at Roland Garros.

Jones, currently ranked 316 in the world, had beaten former grand slam semi-finalist Coco Vandeweghe in her opening round and had enjoyed some encouraging results on the ITF circuit prior to the main clay-court in Paris.

She joins Heather Watson and Katie Swan in heading out of qualifying as the British pair lost in Tuesday’s first-round qualifying.

A host of other Brits are in action later on Tuesday as they hope to continue their journey towards the main draw.

Boris Becker fears Alexander Zverev's injury problems may impact his fellow German's chances of winning a first grand slam at the upcoming French Open.

Zverev reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros last year, but his chances of winning a maiden grand slam title were ended when an ankle injury forced him to retire from his last-four clash with eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

Zverev subsequently required surgery to repair damaged ligaments before a bone edema suffered in September further delayed his return to the court.

The German finally made his competitive comeback in December but struggled at the Australian Open the following month, crashing out in the second round to unheralded American Michael Mmoh.

With the 26-year-old heading to Roland Garros later this month looking to reach the semi-finals for the third straight year, Becker has serious doubts over his compatriot's chances of claiming victory.

Asked whether he felt Zverev could come out on top, Becker told Stats Perform: "I hope so. I hope so.

"At the moment he is in a bit of a crisis because he had a very severe injury last year in the semi-final against Nadal. 

"He literally broke his ankle. He was out for seven months and just came back this year. So he's still struggling.

"I think for the title, I don't think anybody German [will win] this year. I think it'll be a Spaniard, it'll be a Serbian, it'll be an Italian, somebody like that."

The French Open was the only grand slam singles title that evaded Becker during his hugely successful career, with the tennis great winning three Wimbledon titles, two Australian Open crowns and the 1989 US Open.

The former world number one believes the beauty of tennis lies in individuals coping with pressure, explaining there is no opportunity to exploit the talents of others to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

"Tennis is a very important sport," Becker said. "It's an individual sport. You can actually see it with one player, whether he's winning or losing.

"In a team, sometimes people can hide behind the likes of [Lionel] Messi or [Kylian] Mbappe. You're still a World Cup winner, even though you know it was either Mbappe or Messi, right?

"In tennis, it's not possible. You have to be the better player and that is why tennis is such a powerful sport, because you see who is better with your own eyes."

Andy Murray has withdrawn from this year’s French Open, the PA news agency understands.

The second grand slam of the year begins next week, but after struggling to find his best form on clay in recent weeks, the Scot will prioritise a busy grass-court schedule in the build-up to Wimbledon.

Murray was beaten in the first round of the Italian Open and earlier this week made another early exit on clay after losing to Stan Wawrinka at an ATP Challenger event in Bordeaux.

The 36-year-old is understood to still be considering which tournaments to target and they may include Surbiton from June 4-11 and then Queen’s from June 19-25. Wimbledon is scheduled to start on July 3.

Murray had struggled for his best form on clay after proving he was physically in condition to take on the world’s best players with some marathon matches at the Australian Open at the start of the year.

The former world number one, bidding to revive his career after major hip surgery in 2018, came through two five-set victories over Matteo Berrettini and Thanasi Kokkinakis before losing to Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round.

Murray beat Tommy Paul in the final of the ATP Challenger event in Aix-en-Provence at the start of this month – his first title in nearly four years – after first-round exits in Monte Carlo and Madrid.

But that was followed by his disappointments in the Italian Open in Rome and another Challenger event in Bordeaux.

Andy Murray has withdrawn from this year’s French Open, the PA news agency understands.

The second grand slam of the year begins next week, but after struggling to find his best form on clay recently, the Scot will prioritise a busy grass-court schedule in the build-up to Wimbledon.

Murray was beaten in the first round of the Italian Open and earlier this week made another early exit on clay after losing to Stan Wawrinka at an ATP Challenger event in Bordeaux.

Iga Swiatek is optimistic of being fit to defend her title at the French Open.

On the day her fellow champion Rafael Nadal announced he would not be in Paris this year, Swiatek gave a more upbeat assessment of her own prospects after withdrawing during her Italian Open quarter-final.

The Pole sustained a right thigh problem during her clash with Elena Rybakina and called it a day at 2-2 in the deciding set in Rome.

Writing on Twitter on Thursday, Swiatek said: “Quick update. A couple of days off for sure. And booking my flight to Paris, so… fingers crossed, please! Hopefully, see you soon.”

The world number one was on a 14-match winning streak in Rome having won the title the previous two years.

Fitness permitting, she will still go into the French Open as the title favourite but her lead over the rest of the women’s field has narrowed, with Aryna Sabalenka and Rybakina both ahead of her in the 2023 standings.

Sabalenka, who beat Swiatek to win the Madrid Open earlier this month, has never been beyond the third round in Paris but winning the title could see her overtake her rival to become world number one.

Rafael Nadal admitted he is staring at the end of his tennis career after announcing he will miss the French Open and the majority of the season ahead of what he expects to be a farewell tour in 2024.

The 22-time grand-slam champion has not played since his second-round exit at the Australian Open in January.

Nadal struggled with a hip injury during the straight-sets defeat to Mackenzie McDonald and the ongoing issue has failed to recover sufficiently in order for the 36-year-old to chase a 15th title at Roland Garros.

It means the Spaniard, who has only lost three matches on the Parisian clay, will miss the tournament for the first time since 2004 but he admitted during a press conference at his academy in Manacor that it feels the only option.

The 14-time French Open champion now plans to rest for the coming months with the aim to recover so he can play at “important tournaments” in 2024 during what will be his final year on the ATP Tour.

“My goal and my ambition is to try and stop and give myself an opportunity to enjoy the next year that will probably be my last year in the professional tour,” Nadal told reporters.

“That is my idea but I can’t say 100 per cent it will be like this, but my idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me.

“To enjoy being competitive and something that today is not possible. I believe, if I keep going now, I will not be able to make it happen.”

On next week’s French Open, Nadal explained: “First thing, I’m not going to be able to play in Roland Garros.

“I was even working as much as possible every single day for the last four months, they have been very difficult months because we were not able to find a solution to the problems I had in Australia.

“Today I’m still in a position where I am not able to feel myself ready to compete at the standards I need to be to play Roland Garros.

“I am not the guy who will be at Roland Garros just to play.”

Nadal claimed brilliant victories at the Australian Open and French Open last year but was fighting his body, with a chronic foot problem, fractured rib and an abdominal strain that forced him out of Wimbledon keeping him off the court for spells prior to this latest injury.

His withdrawal from the French Open had appeared increasingly inevitable but the news he will also sit out Wimbledon, and almost certainly the US Open as well, is a major blow to the sport, which must now prepare to say goodbye to the Spaniard having seen his great rival Roger Federer bow out last autumn.

Nadal suggested he might try to turn out for Spain at the Davis Cup later this year, while a major target in 2024 will be the Olympic Games in Paris, with the tennis events being played at Roland Garros next summer.

“After a couple of years that in terms of results have been positive because I was able to win a couple of grand slams and important tournaments, the real situation is I was not able to enjoy my diary work,” Nadal said.

“Since after the pandemic, my body was not able to do the practice or diary work in a good way so I was not able to enjoy the practice and competition because too many problems, too many times having to stop for physical conditions and too many days off not practising because of too much pain.

“I need to stop for a while. My position is to stop and I don’t know when I can come back to the practice court.

“I will stop for a while, maybe one month, maybe two months, maybe three months. I am a guy who doesn’t like to predict too much the future. I am following what I believe is the right thing to do for my body and my personal happiness.

“I don’t want to say one thing and do the other. It is better to hold the options open and see what is the best calendar possible.

“I would like to play the things that are important for me and of course the Olympic Games is an important competition and one I hope to play. Will it be my last or not? I cannot say.”

Nadal’s compatriot Carlos Alcaraz, who will be the top seed for the French Open, sent his best wishes on Twitter, saying: “Good luck Rafael! Very painful and sad for everyone that you can’t be at Roland Garros or play more this year, but I hope that 2024 will be a great season for you and that you can say goodbye like the great champion you are.”

Alcaraz will now lead the favourites at Roland Garros along with Novak Djokovic, who can claim the outright men’s record for slam singles titles if he wins a 23rd.

Speaking on Amazon Prime Video, former British number one Tim Henman said: “I think the real positive is that he is prepared to give it one last effort, and that’s what Rafa’s always been about, giving 100 per cent to everything he’s doing.

“And fingers crossed he can find that physical wellbeing to be back out on tour. If 2024 is his last year then I really hope that he can enjoy it and I hope we can enjoy it and the fans can enjoy it because he deserves that send-off.”

Rafael Nadal will be absent from next week’s French Open and has signalled his intention to retire in 2024.

The 22-time grand-slam champion has not played since his second-round exit at the Australian Open in January.

Nadal struggled with a hip injury during the straight sets defeat to Mackenzie McDonald and the ongoing issue has failed to recover sufficiently in order for the 36-year-old to feature at Roland Garros.

It means the Spaniard will miss the tournament for the first time since 2004 but he admitted during a press conference at his academy in Manacor that it feels the only option to prolong his career.

The 14-time French Open champion now plans to rest for the coming months with the aim to recover so he can play at “important tournaments” in 2024 during what will be his final year on the ATP Tour.

“My goal and my ambition is to try and stop and give myself an opportunity to enjoy the next year that will probably be my last year in the professional tour,” Nadal told a press conference.

“That is my idea but I can’t say 100 per cent it will be like this but my idea and my motivation is to try to enjoy and say goodbye to all the tournaments that have been important for me.

“To enjoy being competitive and something that today is not possible. I believe if I keep going now, I will not be able to make it happen.”

On next week’s French Open, Nadal explained: “First thing I’m not going to be able to play in Roland Garros.

“I was even working as much as possible every single day for the last four months, they have been very difficult months because we were not able to find a solution to the problems I had in Australia.

“Today I’m still in a position where I am not able to feel myself ready to compete at the standards I need to be to play Roland Garros.

“I am not the guy who will be at Roland Garros just to play.”

Rafael Nadal missing the French Open this year would be a huge disappointment, though Emmanuel Cruze would prefer to look on the bright side.

Cruze is the head of the Villa Primrose Club, the host of the Bordeaux Challenger event, which Nadal declined an invitation to as he continues his recovery from injury.

The 36-year-old has not played since going out in the second round of the Australian Open in January.

Nadal has since dropped to 14th in the ATP rankings, and it is not yet clear if he will be fit to feature at Roland Garros, where he won a record-extending 14th French Open title last year.

However, Cruze told Stats Perform that while it would be sad to see Nadal miss the season's second major, it might signal a changing of the guard in Paris.

"We would all be very disappointed for the tournament, but maybe it will be a new era that will open for all the players, and especially you are talking about Spanish players," said Cruze.

"We need to keep in mind that [Carlos] Alcaraz is really performing extremely well, and is still very young also.

"Is he the future Nadal? We don't know, but definitely if Nadal is not playing at the French Open, it will be much more open for all other players.

"[It will be exciting] for the tournament itself, because if he's there and in good shape, people will say 'Okay, Nadal will win another title, and it's going to be boring'.

"We are not sure that he will be able to play the French Open and then for the next generation it's really something that will be very important for them, to be able to play the French without the pressure of Nadal."

Cruze is unsure if Nadal would be among the favourites even if he mustered a comeback in time for the tournament, which begins on May 29.

"He is over 30 and it's always more and more difficult to come back after a major injury, we have seen with [Roger] Federer, he wants to try to come back and win Wimbledon for the last time and finally was unable to do so because when you are out for six months and you are over 30, I think it's really difficult," he said.

"But [Nadal] is such a character and such a fantastic player [that] you never know. You never know. I'm not a doctor, I'm in the wine business so nothing to do with that, even if wine sometimes helps!"

As for Nadal's legacy in France, Cruze believes there should be a permanent tribute to the 22-time grand slam champion at Roland Garros.

"I think as soon as Nadal retires, he almost deserves a statue, because he is a legend," Cruze added.

"How could you imagine winning 14 times at the French Open, which probably is one of the most difficult [surfaces] because you're playing on clay courts, you spend sometimes three or four hours on the court, which is not the same on grass or on hard courts, so I think for French tennis lovers, he will be a legend for years.

"He's a legend, but normally with a legend, it is because you stopped your career, but he is already a legend, even if he is still playing."

Looking to the future, Cruze sees Nadal's compatriot Alcaraz as a possible heir apparent.

"I've never seen him physically, only on TV and that's it, but he's a very young guy and is performing extremely well," Cruze said of the world number two.

"I don't know about on grass, but for hard courts, he seems to be fine, so if he's fine with a hard court, he would normally be a good player on grass, so yeah he could be the next legend, why not? But so far the real [legend] is still Rafael Nadal, up until he retires."

Boris Becker believes Novak Djokovic can secure a record-breaking triumph at the French Open, where the tennis great hopes Rafael Nadal will return to action.

Djokovic moved level with Nadal for the most grand slam singles titles among male players after clinching his 22nd major with January's success at the Australian Open.

The Serbian will have his sights on a landmark 23rd major triumph at Roland Garros, where the tournament starts on May 28, and Becker sees no reason for Djokovic not to break the record in Paris.

Former world number one Becker, a six-time major winner, told Stats Perform: "Do I believe Novak can win 23? Absolutely, I can.

"But it's not easy. Competition doesn't sleep."

 

Djokovic has made light work of said competition in recent years, though a return for 14-time French Open winner Nadal would throw the upcoming major wide open.

However, the Spaniard has not featured since sustaining a hip injury at the Australian Open in January, most recently pulling out of the Italian Open as he had not fully recovered.

"The question is Nadal, can he come back? Can he play in the French Open? I personally hope so," Becker added.

"I think tennis needs Nadal. We need him. And so hopefully he comes back and plays as a 14-time winner of Roland Garros.

"But Novak is healthy, he's fit. He wants to play so he's one of the favourites."

Andy Murray will make a decision over the next few days about whether to play in the French Open.

The Scot was knocked out of the Italian Open in the first round by Fabio Fognini on Wednesday evening after a three-set battle lasting nearly three hours.

Murray has failed to win a match at any of the three clay-court Masters 1000 events over the last month but won his first title since 2019 at the second-tier tournament in Aix-en-Provence on Sunday.

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tennis TV (@tennistv)

 

Murray, who turns 36 this week, has only played at Roland Garros once since 2017 and must now decide whether to compete on the Parisian clay potentially for the last time or begin his preparations early for the grass-court season.

He told The Guardian: “I’d still like to play but we did agree that we’d talk and make a decision as a team after Rome.

“That is what I wanted, to see how my game felt, how I was playing and physically how I was doing in some of the longer matches before making a definitive call on it. We’ll have those discussions in the next few days.”

Murray and Fognini have been foes dating back to their junior days and it was the Italian who came out on top 6-4 4-6 6-4 after a tight battle.

“It was a pretty patchy match,” said Murray. “There was some good stuff in there but also some pretty average stuff. He played very well in the third set. My level was OK in the third, but he played really well in the third.”

The result was a setback to Murray’s hopes of being seeded at Wimbledon, while he got into a row with umpire Mohamed Lahyani over a line call late in the first set.

Responding to an Instagram post about the incident, Murray hit out at the Rome fans, saying: “Stadium full of Italians booing and whistling, thinking I’m trying to cheat Fabio out of point all because Mo couldn’t read a mark properly. Cheers mate.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.